West Coast Pro Wrestling
Cruel Summer 2022
July 8, 2022
United Irish Cultural Center
San Francisco, CA

Watch: IWTV

West Coast Pro, a California-based indie that has been making waves over the last year with a series of great shows and some standout matches, ran their eighth event of the year on July 8th. Held at the United Irish Cultural Centre in San Francisco, the show featured nine matches and was main evented by The Motor City Machine Guns facing off against The West Coast Wrecking Crew.

There were some issues with echoing from the ring announcer’s microphone but, all in all, the venue looked decent and the crowd were good and lively throughout. Commentary came from the solid tandem of James Kincaid and Veda Scott.

The Conglomerate (Alpha Zo, D-Rogue & Midas Kreed) def. 1 Called Manders, Levi Shapiro & Michael Hopkins

The Conglomerate, a trio from the Bay Area, are a popular lower-card babyface act in West Coast Pro and they looked decent here in what was a fun little opener.

The key story here was Michael Hopkins, a late replacement in the heel trio for Jordan Cruz (more on that later), seeking to make himself the star of the show. To that end, Hopkins would frequently tag himself in when his team appeared to be in a commanding position, including in the finishing stretch when Levi Shapiro appeared to have the match won. In the end, that hubris cost his team, as the Conglomerate swarmed Hopkins with offence and pinned him after a D-Rogue Swanton Bomb. ***

Masha Slamovich def. Zeda Zhang

I like that they tried to do something a little different and make this feel like a ‘fight.’ While they got there in the end, I’m not sure that this clicked, with me at least, the way they wanted it to.

The grappling early on seemed a bit too deliberate and quite awkward-looking but as they moved away from that into striking exchanges and submission attempts, it worked a lot better. Slamovich’s main area of attack was the arm and that work paid off as she scored the submission with an armbar. **3/4

Vinnie Massaro def. Alan Angels

Alan Angels’ decision to turn down a new AEW contract was brave and it’s one I continue to be impressed by – he’s a young guy who has decided to bet on himself and gain more experience by working in as many places as possible. By getting those reps in, he’s rounding out his own style and character in a way that’ll make him a much bigger asset wherever he ends up signing his next regular contract.

Vinnie Massaro, meanwhile, is not someone that’s ever going to be a top of the card worker but he is very solid and I liked him here and I liked this match.

They’re doing a winning run gimmick with Massaro in West Coast Pro, noting that he’d won eight in a row since losing to Tomohiro Ishii last year, and that extended to nine here. Angels’ dive off the stage and attempted Wingsnapper weren’t enough, with the former Dark Order member eventually getting pinned after a Snoring Elbow. ***1/4

Nick Wayne def. ACH

Every time I’ve seen Nick Wayne, I’ve been struck by how much of a ringer he is for the Irish boxer Michael Conlan. I’m not sure why that bothers me as much as it does.

From bell to bell, this was nine minutes long but it didn’t feel like a nine-minute match. That’s not because it was an amazing sprint or anything of the sort, rather that it seemed as though not a lot had happened before Nick Wayne hit a big dive to the outside and followed it up with a leaping cutter inside for the win. Maybe I missed something but this didn’t click for me. **1/2

Kevin Blackwood def. Jordan Cruz

In comparison to the previous match, this was a complete change of pace.

Jordan Cruz was bumped up the card to replace Blackwood’s original opponent, Davey Richards, who had to drop out of the show at late notice. To his credit, I thought Cruz looked great here and he impressed me a lot – he’s got a tremendous look and there’s a real sense of snap and power to his offence.

Repeated attempts at hitting the F5 would prove Cruz’s downfall. The first time round he got reversed into a roll-up for a nearfall, the second time Blackwood span out and levelled him with a Tombstone. The Tombstone wasn’t enough for a three but the follow-up running boot and diving Meteora were. ***1/2

Titus Alexander def. Jack Cartwheel

We got a little bit of comedy to start proceedings here, with Jack trying to get everyone in the ring to do one of his namesake. The referee obliged as, rather surprisingly, did Alexander. Alexander’s compliance was just a ruse though, as he used it as a means to beat Cartwheel down. From that point on, this rocked.

I’m a big fan of Titus Alexander and I thought he had another great showing here, controlling large portions of the match with his more gritty, power style. Cartwheel’s athleticism is his biggest asset and that kept him in this match – turning small openings into a backflip dive to the outside, a twisting elbow drop or a Spanish Fly will always grab your attention.

Cartwheel’s flashiness wasn’t enough to get the win though, as a lovely sequence of offence – a slingshot suplex, a running knee and a superb Michinoku Driver – from Alexander put him down for the count. ***3/4

Mike Bailey def. Starboy Charlie

Mike Bailey has been absolute magic with everyone he’s shared a ring with this year and this was another good match, albeit not quite the great epic they were going for, on his ledger.

I hadn’t seen much of Starboy Charlie before this match but I was struck by how much younger than Nick Wayne he looked despite being two years his senior. It’s definitely the baby face and wirier frame.

Bailey, who showed a more aggressive, gnarly side here than he does normally, gave Starboy a lot here and perhaps too much in some respects. The boxing exchanges here looked awful and pull my rating down, as does the fact this felt too long at just under 16 minutes. ***1/2

West Coast Pro Heavyweight Title
Jacob Fatu (C) def. Tom Lawlor

I’ve typically always found myself the low man when it comes to big Tom Lawlor matches. I totally get him and his style and I typically enjoy his work but there’s always something that never quite clicks with me as it does with other people.

Having seen him and Fatu face off a fair few times before in other promotions, I had pretty reasonable expectations coming into this. Ultimately, though, it felt a bit disappointing.

Lawlor jumped Fatu at the bell, which led to a walk and brawl segment on the outside early on. Although Fatu would come back into the match with various moments of big offence, he spent probably 75% of this match getting worked over. The intent was clearly to show Lawlor’s viciousness and Fatu’s resilience as champion, and I get that, but I feel the execution, particularly with how awkward the match-winning Moonsault looked, made both men seem weaker propositions than they were at the start. ***1/4

The Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley) def. The West Coast Wrecking Crew (Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs)

If I’m being totally honest, this match was the main reason I wanted to review this show. I love Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley and they’re both having exceptional years. Add in that this was their first time teaming together on the indies since 2010 and it being a first-time match with two guys in Nelson and Isaacs that I think are great and I was completely sold.

All in all, this was so much fun. Although there were control segments, like when the Guns worked over Isaacs’ arm, it wasn’t slavish to any sort of traditional formula. Instead it just constantly flowed back-and-forth until a conclusion.

The West Coast Wrecking Crew got a lot in, including some lovely poses, but ultimately the Guns proved too good and too experienced, sealing the win in a shade under 20 minutes with Skull and Bones. ****

Final Thoughts

As has become the norm with West Coast Pro, Cruel Summer was a fun show. Everything was solid at a bare minimum, with Blackwood/Cruz, Alexander/Cartwheel and the main event standing out as worth your time. With the West Coast Cup coming up next month and a big King of Indies show later in the year that’ll feature Dragongate and NOAH talents, now’s a good time to jump aboard the West Coast Pro train.